LITTLE ROCK — The University of Central Arkansas baseball team capped this season’s "Rock and Roar" rivalry with a "Roar and Splash."
The Bears (29-20) won the rubber game this season f its three-game "Rock N Roar" series against the Little Rock Trojans with a 5-1 victory Tuesday night at Gary Hogan Field. In the process, UCA coach Allen Gum became the winningest baseball coach in school history with his 210th victory in his seven years, supassing Doug Clark, his predecessor.
Afterwards, Gum received a celebratory water dousing from his players.
Clark has 436 total careers in his collegiate career at Southern Arkansas University and UCA.
"It does mean a lot to me,’" said Gum, "but it means a lot to me because of the players that came to our program. And especially when you start talking about early on. Convincing them that we’re going to have a good, solid program, that we’re going to win ballgames.
"And most importantly, it’s just believing in what we’re trying to do. We have three main goals, and that’s to win championships, to get our degrees _—and we don’t miss on that _and then just to develop great relationships. And I’m just thankful for the guys, because they did it. And I’e said this since I started coaching … good players make good coaches. And I’ve been very blessed to have a lot of really good players come through here and do what they’ve done. It’s all the credit to those guys.
"But it does mean a lot to me and it means a lot to my family, there’s no question about that."
On the field, the Bears Bears won the series over the Trojans 2-1 for the second straight season with lefthander Will Brand (4-1) winning both games for UCA. On Tuesday, he allowed seven hits and one run. Brand also won the opener in Conway back on March 14th. The Trojans won the second meeting at Dickey-Stephens Park last month.
The Bears took advantage of a Little Rock error and two hits to score twice in the first inning for all the runs they would need. Junior Keaton Presley led off the game with a triple to left field. Hunter Strong followed with an RBI single and he eventually scored on Brooks Balisterri’s fielder’s choice.
In the third inning, catcher William Hancock had an RBI single, scoring Rigo Aguilar, who reached on an infield single. Jansen McCurdy’s base hit in the fourth inning brought in Presley to give Brand a 4-0 lead to work with. The Trojans (21-31) got their lone run in the fifth but UCA countered that with Hancock’s fielder’s choice.
The Bears left the bases loaded in that frame and the Trojans did the same in the bottom of the innings, thanks to a diving stop by second baseman Eddy Sanchez for the third out.
Hancock, Presley, Aguilar and Balisterri all had two hits for the Bears, who finished with 11. Little Rock starter Carter Brown (3-2) took the loss, allowing 3 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.
The Bears finish Southland Conference play beginning Thursday when they host the Nicholls Colonels at Bear Stadium with a berth in the SLC Tournament on the line. UCA is in a tie for fifth place with a 15-12 record, with the top eight teams gaining berths.
Game times are 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 1 p.m. for Senior Day on Saturday.
(UCA Sports Information contributed to this report)